Or at least my agnosticism, And she said that she wouldn't have married someone that didn't believe in God. Ouch. I have to admit that one kindof stung a little bit. Though to be fair I do think that she really didn't think about that one before she said it, she tends to spout off things without proper forethought. I told her that at the time (about 3 years ago) I actually did believe, but always had doubts.

Next, she said she doesn't want me to go to hell. Which is a hard one for me because I don't want her to be stressed out about something that she perceives as very real.

Either way, I think it kindof scared her a bit because she already stresses out about not being together, much less, not being together for eternity as she believes will happen with my nonbelief. I'm hoping to chip away with logic and see if anything sticks, perhaps at least I can at least assuage her fears of bad things happening. She eventually just shut down and didn't want to talk about it any more.

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Yeesh. Good luck. You're gonna need it.
Yeah, I hope you keep the good times going too.
The only tip I can give you is that if you are talking with her and she starts to get defensive, back off and let it drop. Don't relent, just don't press the issue. It's virtually impossible to change someones mind when they are on the defensive, especially about religion.

Remember, people are not religious because it makes sense. So using reason to woo her will be a really slow process. You might want to pick up The God Virus and read it. It's not perfect, but he has some really useful metaphor's in there that might help you gain an understanding of what people of faith go through internally when their faith is questioned.

Best of luck, my friend.
I'm in a similar boat, I married a christian. At the time I referred to myself as agnostic and whilst it was always a sticky point we got past it. Last year I came out and told her that atheist was actually a more accurate term to describe me. She didn't like that one bit. She also doesn't like me buying atheist books or hearing atheist podcasts but I do both anyway. I can't really offer much advice but so far I'd say that you may need to adopt a live and let live attitude. If you both try to change each other's values then your relationship might run into trouble,
Arm3d I would concentrate on reminding her of the things you have in common. For this to come up as an issue 3 years into your marriage suggests it is not the main focus of your relationship. Your joint foundation is what will get you through. I would proffer that although she has said she wouldn't marry somebody who didn't believe in god, at the time she didn't quiz you intently so it really isn't that important to her.

For me the religiosity of a prospective partner is fundamental to whether I see any compatibility with them. If there is a difference in our beliefs, nothing will get me past it. I suspect your wife has made a gut reaction to your statement, based on her history of indoctrination. I very much doubt her beliefs will usurp her belief in you and she as a couple.

In the meantime answer her questions as you would any believer, with logical reasoning and without criticism. You will, I'm sure, find an accommodation between you. Good luck.
This must be a stressful situation for you, too. I know that, were it not for the support of my husband, my whole "coming out atheist" would have been a lot harder. I can't imagine not being able to share that with the one person who should back you up no matter what. You say she's scared of you not being together for eternity in heaven, but might it be even scarier for her to try and imagine her life with no religion? I suggest letting her see and know how happy and fulfilled you are without it, and how good it feels not to have to be afraid of hell. Good luck, you'll be in my thoughts.
Have you been attending church together?
I recently came out to my wife (as I mentioned in another thread), and thanks in great part to The Nerd's suggestion here, I brought up to my wife the idea of trying a UU church. We scoped out a few places on the web and found one we both thought sounded okay.

They were very welcoming. There was some God talk and some hymns that were familiar (Christian hymns with slightly altered lyrics), but there was also a lot of talk about questions and doubts being healthy, a number of jokes about God and religion (e.g. the pastor said it was a church of god, or a church of not-god, depending on your beliefs), and a number of references to non-believers being welcomed.

I'm sure it depends on your relationship, your partner's beliefs, the individual congregation, etc. I'm not sure arm3d if it would work in your case, but it might be something to consider. I personally have no burning desire to go to church, but it pleased my wife and nothing was particularly objectionable to me as an atheist during the service. It could be seen as a good-faith effort (no pun intended) at a compromise between a believer and non-believer.
Sometimes by just being yourself the person will start to wonder why your life hasn't crumbled yet.
If I were in your position and it was my wife, I'd tell her that "Perhaps one day god will reveal himself to me."

Now, don't think of this as a cop-out, it does several things. First it acknowledges and respects her belief. Second, it puts the responsibility on god to reveal himself to settle the matter. And it doesn't require you to lie. Third, it gives her the psychological elbow room to trust that god will perform. (When you're both in your 70's and you're still an atheist, she might conclude something about god's performance -- his consistency of non-performance.)

In each case it takes the burden off of you and her and puts it on something else, thus giving you both time -- to continue to enjoy each other without having to worry about each others beliefs.
Good luck bro.
I empathize with you, arm3d, and wish you all the best of luck. It helps me to hear your story because I'm actually very close to coming out as an atheist to my wife, and I don't think she will like it. We've been married for a couple of years. Although she said she was looking for someone religious, religion has almost never come up, except when we're around family. Before we got married, I told her that I was brought up Lutheran, I wasn't sure what I believed now, but was pretty sure what I didn't believe, which was the truth (but not the whole truth). We left it at that.

I actually reread some stuff after I met her, and have gone to several church services with her and her family, trying to keep an open mind. It has only strongly reaffirmed my non-belief. Now I'm running an atheist blog/site, and I read and listen to atheist/freethought/etc. news all the time, none of which she knows (or at least, I don't think so).

The more involved I get with my atheism, the more I feel like I need to let her know this part of my life. I think she suspects something. Recently she has mentioned a couple of times that she knows that I "don't like church." She has said before she really likes the service and the music, and the fact of being together with other people. So I don't think she's very strongly religious, which might help, but it's interesting that she says I don't like church when I've never come out and said this.

She's never just out of the blue mentioned God, which I *think* is a good sign. It's only when something triggers it that she might say something. The only discussion we've had that bordered on actually discussing religious beliefs was for my nephew's baptism. She got him a Noah's Ark book and just assumed I would be fine with that. I danced around the issue for a long time before saying that I was uncomfortable with it. First, I think people should be old enough to choose whether or not they want to be baptized. Second, specifically the story of Noah's Ark was one I didn't like. She said she didn't see why I didn't like the Noah Ark's book, since it basically just had cute animals in it. We had a brief discussion about the story, I asked her if she believed it literally and she didn't give a yes or a no (I don't think she ever thought of it before). She said she saw what I meant about baptism, but disagreed that it was a problem. We ended up agreeing to disagree, and got him two gifts (the book and a stuffed animal), not saying which was from who.

I think she knows I'm not a Christian, or at least not a traditional one. But I don't know if she thinks I'm an atheist (other family members have made disparaging remarks about atheists), an agnostic, or what. I don't know if I will use the word "atheist", at least not at first. I've thought about suggesting going to a UU church, like The Nerd suggested, but like Stephen said I've heard they can vary widely, so I don't know if either of us would be comfortable. So I really don't know what I'll say, or how she'll react, but I feel like I need to say something soon. So unfortunately, you're not alone arm3d. It's a scary thing to have to tell someone you love.




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